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Full text of "Alexander von Humboldt"

ALEXANDER VON HtTMBOLDT,        15*7
South American tropics and the steppes of Northern
Asia,,-—and was thereby led to comparisons and
general observations, and thus became qualified to
conceive heaven and eartli in its entirety as a physical
unity.
Hi« immense scientific attainments \vere at the
service of all men of science. Hunxboldt not only
imparted them freely, but arranged them comprehen-
sively in hi,K works. But the summary of his know-
lodge, the fruit of his life, he dedicated to his father-
land, and for this purpose he started from the point
where he had first been a ptiblic instructor of the
people, from his lectures in Berlin, "which commenced
what Kosmos was intended to complete. But the
lectures and Kosmos have nothing in common except
the order of subjects; for since 1827 science has ne-
cessarily taken another form, in consequence of the
progressive explanation of natural phenomena and
physical laws, in consequence of the increasing per-
fection of experimental instruments and the conse-
quent enlargement of the perceptive limits; the
mysterious had been explained, the impenetrable had
been cleared, and the mind itself had risen to a
higher standard by the simultaneous action of new
views and experiences. Humboldt felt, more than
any one, the great difficulty of producing a work
which might be a faithful, enduringly correct picture
of ail eternally progressive world ; for the higher the
Bttidont attains in the progress of the human mind,
the more the horizon extends with new fields for
observation. Works on natural science become old in
time and are forgotten ; but Huinboldt, inspired by
the high dignity of natural science, and by an ardent
love for it, was not discouraged when he was
reminded of a future perfection of human knowledge,
for he "knew that he had been instrumental in raising
the iirm, indestructible foundations for many of its
mont important branches. And if even what now
appears as a single phenomenon be in future classi-
fied under a general law, if new powers are disco-